2022 Vuelta a España Stage 9 Preview

Villaviciosa > Les Praeres 171.4km

Another big mountain stage awaits the riders, with the hardest finish in the whole race. We were last here in 2018 and Simon Yates took the win from Miguel Ángel López. Les Praeres is a horrible climb, it is ridiculously steep and unrelenting. 

Weather

A nice day with lots of sun and temperatures getting close to 30 degrees.

Key Climbs

This is the first categorised climb of the day, it starts after almost 50km of racing. Is this where the break will be formed?

Midway through the stage we have this cat 1 climb, it’s quite gentle by Vuelta standards. 

Here it is, Les Praeres. The opening 2.4km averages 15.4%, before a short flat section where you can catch your breath. It then starts to ramp up again towards the finishing line.

Tactics

Just like in every mountain stage, it’s all about who wants to chase the break. There’s a little unclassified climb at the start of the stage, but it’s only around 4km at 3.5%, which isn’t ideal for climbers looking to jump in the break. If the break goes on the first categorised climb, then it’s going to be strong and full of good climbers, but if it goes on the flat then it should contain big rouleurs. As the GC position is now set, there isn’t going to be a GC threat looking to get in the break, which means QuickStep don’t have to chase, but that doesn’t mean they won’t chase.

Remco Evenepoel is looking very strong just now, today is an excellent opportunity for him to take a stage win in the red jersey. QuickStep have a strong team, they do lack a climbing super domestique, but that shouldn’t be too much of a problem. If Remco wants a stage win, this is a good opportunity. The other teams who might contribute to a chase are Movistar and Jumbo-Visma, especially as tomorrow is a rest day. Normally, this would be a GC day, but you can never be certain.

Contenders

Remco Evenepoel – the final climb will be a big test for him, there’s no guarantee he simply dances away from everyone else. He was untouchable in San Sebastian, on a climb that was over 10%, so they’ll be no lack of confidence for him. This is a good chance to put more time into his rivals, even before we get to the TT. 

Primož Roglič – it was good to see him bounce back yesterday and finish with Evenepoel, maybe his performance on Thursday was just one of those days. Normally, this would be a great climb for him, he’s one of the best in the world when the road kicks up over 10%. The issue I have is his performance on Thursday, it puts a little doubt into my mind, and maybe also his. I’m hoping he goes well, I think we all want to see a battle for the red jersey.

Enric Mas – after another good performance he now sits in a strong position on GC. This is a good climb for the Spaniard, it will be very hard for anyone to drop him. He’ll hope that Evenepoel shows some weakness, this is a chance for him to win a stage and move closer to the red jersey.

Jay Vine – when you’ve got the legs, you’ve got the legs, and right now he certainly has the legs! The Aussie is currently enjoying a period like no other, when he retires he’ll look back on this week with great pride. Breakaway riders cannot get close to him, and as he’s still 6:33 down on GC, he’s still not a threat for those battling for red. Not only does he have two stages, but he also has a commanding lead in the KOM classification. This stage does have a cat 1 climb early in the day, will he try for the break? Given the way he’s riding, I would turn my attention to fighting for GC, but it depends on how tired he is after his multiple breakaway efforts.

Santiago Buitrago – about time he made a break.

Mark Padun – yesterday was classic Padun, made the break and looked strong, then blew up spectacularly. He’ll keep trying and hope for good legs.

Fred Wright – not a great looking stage for him, but when you have legs you just have to go for it. 

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